Social Welfare and Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013: Report and Final Stages

26.06.2013

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Senator Zappone

I move amendment No. 1:


In page 30, after line 38, to insert the following:
“ 'overpayment' means any Social Welfare assistance or benefit payment received by a person as a result of--
(a) an error or omission on the part of the Department,
(b) an error or omission on the part of the overpaid person,
(c) fraud on the part of the overpaid person, or
(d) the provision of incorrect information by the overpaid person;”.
This amendment is simply trying to follow the philosophy I used for all the amendments, which is to ensure fair and transparent procedures in the recovery of overpayments through attachment. What we have offered is a definition of "overpayment". In our exchange, the Minister has identified a number of ways in which an overpayment can result, and we have listed some of these, including error or omission on the part of the Department or the overpaid person, fraud on the part of the overpaid person and the provision of incorrect information. Our concern is that the different ways within which overpayment can occur should be listed, as we are concerned about the process taking in the attachment order. If there are reasons for overpayment not caused by proven fraudulent behaviour, it should be indicated in the attachment order, as this would be more respectful of a person's reputation and the way in which affairs are conducted. As the Minister knows, legislation permits a Minister to contact employers or holders of joint accounts. Although we trust the Minister in her effort and vision of fairness, this amendment is an attempt to put that fairness into law out of concern for the person who could be subject to a supposition of fraudulent behaviour.

Financial Justice
Financial Justice
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